Emerging social networks

In this growing digital age, Twitter and Facebook have dominated the social networking industry for the past three years. Twitter has just recently topped 530 million registered users, while Facebook garnered 845 million users by the end of December. However, only 100 million of Twitter’s total number of users are considered active—users who log in at least once a month.

These numbers don’t show any sign of slowing down either. Facebook and Twitter are at the peak of their careers just as Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier were at their peaks in the sport of boxing during the early 1970s.

As hackneyed as it sounds though, every good thing must come to an end. Nine years ago, websites like Friendster and Myspace were popular. And now, even though those two social networks still exist, they are not what they used to be and have rapidly declined in recent years. The same will happen to Facebook and Twitter someday. It won’t be happening soon, but promising new startup websites threaten their dominance. Below are some of the heirs to the throne in the realm of social networking:

1. Pinterest

Pinterest is an interesting case study, because it has come out of nowhere and has gained ground pretty quickly. Considering the fact that it was released in March 2010 as a closed beta, it’s amazing to think how much this website has grown in the little time it has been on the Web.

The data-collecting company comScore released a report in January 2012 saying that Pinterest garnered 11.7 million unique visitors per month, which makes it the fastest-growing standalone site to reach 10 million uniques.

Phenomenal statistics aside, Pinterest is exclusive in that it allows users to share photos on the Web using the site’s online pinboard similar to how Twitter users tweet to their timeline. The pinboard constantly updates as users continue to post new photos, which range from do-it-yourself crafts to artwork to home décor.

2. Instagram

Instagram is unique on this list because it’s actually not a website. Instead it’s an iPhone app that allows users to take photos with their camera using a variety of filters and publish them to Instagram’s social network or any of the other major social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

It operates a lot like Twitter, except of course that users share photos instead of 140-character statements.

Like Pinterest, Instagram’s community has grown rapidly. Since launching on Oct. 6, 2010, the app had reached 15 million users as of December 2011. The developers have also planned an Android Market release, which will make the social network grow even more.

3. Google+

Pronounced as “Google Plus,” Google has taken on the social network giants Twitter and Facebook head-on and has been highly successful doing it. Many might recall that Google first entered the social networking industry in 2004 with the launch of Orkut. While Orkut still exists, it has been generally perceived as a failure.

Google Plus, however, has been anything but a failure. Since launching in June 28, 2011, the social network hadamassed a staggering 90 million user count as of January. The social network, which also has native smartphone and tablet apps, operates a lot like Facebook.

Although the above social networks might not reach the popularity that Facebook and Twitter has enjoyed anytime soon, they are legitimate threats to take the throne from the two giants in the next two or three years. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise if any of these three surpass either Facebook or Twitter in the not-too-distant future.



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